So it all started when I hit a deer. It was a cold, dark, frosty December morning in late 2016. I was on my way to work and had the road to mostly myself (not much traffic in Nevada County at 6:30 in the morning) so I was cruising along at a healthy clip.
I was heading down a grade when I caught movement out of the corner of my eye. I saw a deer (buck) jump over the guardrail and head into the road.
I had time to register: “Oh, a deer”, and then “BAM!”. I nailed him.
I’m pretty sure the first word out of my mouth was “Fuck!”. I immediately began thinking of how this would impact my vehicle lease.
The deer spun off and ended up on the other side of the road. I pulled over at the first spot I could find and got out to inspect the damage. It’s always a surreal moment after an accident to see the damage caused. It all just seems so… real. And it was real. My front drivers side headlight, grill and quarter panel were completely smashed in.
“Great, how much is this going to cost me?” I wondered. The answer turned out to be much more than I could have anticipated.
I made the requisite phone calls to insurance, work, and girlfriend and limped my car back to the closest body shop. When I got there the attendant was surprised I drove my car in the condition it was in. Probably wasn’t the greatest idea but the last thing I wanted to pay for was a tow truck. He looked over the damage, called my insurance rep, estimated about a weeks time to have it back and set up a ride for me to a car rental place. I paid my $500 deductible and that set the financial clock ticking…
I should mention that at this point I was about $25,000 in debt with a student loan, car lease, IRS payments, and a few credit cards. I also had about $1000 between my checking and savings accounts (minus the $500 I just paid towards my deductible) and I was getting around $750 every week from my pay checks. So when I had to drop another $300 dollars for my rental car, which included a security deposit, I was getting dangerously close to the red-line financially.
Lesson #1: PAY FOR THE FRICKING RENTAL CAR OPTION ON YOUR CAR INSURANCE! Yeah, It’s totally worth it. I initially rented the car for three days (it was a Tuesday, the body shop guy said about a week so I anticipated my car being ready by Monday and I don’t have to drive anywhere on the weekend) but ended up having to rent it for almost two weeks as they had trouble finding parts for my newer model Hyundai Veloster (another problem with sort of living in the sticks).
When all was said and done I ended up paying almost $700 for my “cheap” rental car. As I was watching my account drain down I knew I was in trouble. I called to try and get a credit limit increase on my cards. I got denied (and dinged on my credit score, awesome). Then started to get a little worried. I researched personal loans online even though the last thing I wanted to do was take on more debt but I was running out of options. I applied to three different institutions and was denied. Now I was starting to panic. I had rent coming up along with all my other bills and I knew I was going to be in the hole and in deep trouble, very possibly looking at bankruptcy for relief. But, I am not a quitter and I tried one more loan service and was approved for a $5000 loan. Success! Sort of.
I knew I had to make some major adjustments to how I was living my life and spending my money. I had no idea that within a few months time I would have three credit cards paid off, a retirement plan set up and well funded and a separate investment account going as well as saving an additional $1000 a month and being able to track where every single dollar I made was going.
It all started when I hit that deer (he technically hit me) and set in motion a journey that I feel is going to change my life forever. I am very excited to share my experiences and the things I am learning and exploring and I hope it can help or enlighten some of you out there too!
Stay tuned for my next post where I will start to get into the details of how I started budgeting and setting up a plan to conquer debt, organize my finances, and set up a plan to move towards financial independence and a life that I am excited to create and enjoy!